Thursday, November 18, 2010

Well, Hello There Chanterelle

In Charleston, we lived a few houses from the Ashley River.  For those of you who aren't up to speed on your geography, Charleston is where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean.  At least that's what native Charlestonians told me.

In any case, our back yard in the summer (which seemed to be from the end of February to the beginning of December) was a breeding ground for some very odd looking fungi.  They were orangish in color and very misshapen.  I spent many mornings pulling them up and discarding them so our dalmatian, Cooper, (yes, he was named for the river) wouldn't eat them.  I didn't want my little boys to mess around with them either.  So it was that each morning I went out before the rest of the household woke up.  The more I discarded, twice as many seemed to come back.  They would pop up all day long.

It so happened that one of the boys'  best friends had a rather noted chef for a father.  One morning noted chef dropped off his son for a play date.  I invited him in for a cup of coffee before he headed down on the peninsula to his noted restaurant.  As we sat in the family room sipping coffee and discussing education, politics and food, the chef suddenly stood up and exclaimed "holy cow you have a yard filled with chanterelles".  I jumped up expecting to see a herd of cattle--or at least a cow or two--grazing among the magnolias.  What I saw were those scary orangish fungi.  "Oh, don't worry!  I'll get them pulled up and disposed of before I let the boys out."  "WHAT?!!"  Noted chef was a little red in the face.  Before I could grab a bag and charge out into the yard, he stepped around me and charged into the yard himself.  "You've been disposing of the chanterelles?"  Well, yes I had been.  As far as I knew, they were toadstools of some variety.  

To make an already long story a little shorter, noted chef left that morning with the orange treasures in a Piggly Wiggly bag and served them to delighted diners that evening at dinner.  He also came back a number of times to harvest more as they popped up.

Now that I'm a savvy chanterelle gatherer, I put them on the table every chance I get. 

I gathered these at Costco.

Chanterelle Salad

4 ounces chanterelles 
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
flat leaf parsley

Use a mushroom brush to clean the chanterelles
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil
Saute the chanterelles over medium heat for about four minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste and the wine
Continue to cook for about two more minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked down.
Remove from heat.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the chanterelles
Sprinkle with chopped parsley

Chill and serve